Labour-city Councils are now beginning to change their tune about carrying through further Tory funding cuts. Last month, for example, Bristol City Mayor Marvin Rees visited Westminster “to warn [the Government] of the dangers for Bristol of carrying on with a programme of central government cutbacks and austerity.” (June 26, Bristol Post)
Following on from this, Mr Rees has now “written an open letter to leaders of the UK’s largest cities outside of London to ‘harness’ anti-austerity ‘energy’ and use it against the ‘weakened’ national government.” (July 18, Bristol Post) As Mr Rees explained to the Bristol Post:
“I am writing to trade unions and community groups in Bristol to build support for a lobby and would invite you all to do the same and build what could be a powerful display of city unity, both for our citizens and for ourselves as city leaders.”
This is a positive move on Mr Rees part, as the best way to oppose Tory austerity is by building a united anti-cuts campaign across all Labour-run Councils. Furthermore, as a next step it is clear that the planned lobby of Parliament – scheduled by Mr Rees and company for September 12 – should be broadened out to invite the active participation of the entire British Labour movement and not Labour representatives from the so-called Core Cities (Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Birmingham, Cardiff & Bristol).
Local campaigning group Bristol Anti-Cuts Alliance have already noted how they “support this initiative” and call on Rees’ and the Core City Labour leaders to work “in conjunction with the national Labour leadership to go further and suspend the cuts for 2017/18 by using reserves to balance their budgets.” The Alliance statement continues:
“We believe that a united campaign of these 10 councils to say ‘this far and no further’ would be incredibly popular and would stand a very high chance of forcing the weak & wobbly Tories into one more U-turn. This would increase the chances of an early election, boost the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour even further, but most importantly would save the vital local services which will be decimated if this year’s cuts are implemented.”
Here it is worth pointing out that Mr Rees apparently wrote to the Core City group to say he “would not pass an illegal [no cuts] budget” (July 18, Bristol Post), which is fortunate, because at present no one is asking Labour Councils to undertake such illegal action. However, what trade unions like Leicester’s Unison city branch and the Bristol Anti-Cuts Alliance are asking their respective Labour Councils to do is work to set LEGAL no-cuts budgets as soon as possible.
For the time-being it is however of utmost importance that all Labour CLP’s and trade unions up and down the country get involved in pushing their own local councillors to lead the fight-back against Tory austerity by demanding that they refuse to participate in the further decimation of local services.
Details of the facebook event advertising the September protest can be found here https://www.facebook.com/events/159167501295120/?acontext=%7B%22action_history%22%3A%22[%7B%5C%22surface%5C%22%3A%5C%22page%5C%22%2C%5C%22mechanism%5C%22%3A%5C%22page_upcoming_events_card%5C%22%2C%5C%22extra_data%5C%22%3A%7D]%22%2C%22has_source%22%3Atrue%7D